Washington DC - Congressman Jim Oberstar is calling on the International Trade Commission (ITC) to crack down on China's practice of dumping coated papers on the U.S. market. In testimony before the ITC this week, Oberstar said the practice is harming Minnesota paper producers. The following are Oberstar's remarks as prepared for delivery to the ITC:
"Madam Chairman and fellow Commissioners, I thank you for the opportunity to appear today on behalf of NewPage Corporation, Sappi Fine and their workers regarding their cases against subsidized and dumped imports of coated paper from China and Indonesia. I represent the proud, hardworking people of northern Minnesota.
Duluth, Minnesota is located right on the northern shore of Lake Superior. It is the perfect place for NewPage's pulp and paper mill, giving it access to a constant water supply and close proximity to sources of wood fiber, the two most important materials when making paper. The Duluth mill employs over 250 workers and dates back to 1987, which makes it new as far as paper mills go. It is top-of-the-line, super efficient, and has a recycled pulp mill that recycles nearly 1 million pounds of recovered paper every day.
Sappi's pulp and paper mill in Cloquet, MN has been on the banks of the St. Louis River since 1898. It's a highly efficient integrated mill that employs over 750 workers. The mill workers contribute to the local schools, youth activities, and nonprofit associations. In a small town like Cloquet, the mill contributes significantly to the local community.
Coming from Northeastern Minnesota, I know from personal experience the economic devastation associated with unfair trading practices. Failed free-trade practices have exacerbated job losses, created anxiety over the future of plants and factories, and communities. I am not anti-trade with China. In fact, China buys more Minnesota manufactured goods than any country after Canada. But, when bad policies and individual bad actors result in subsidized and dumped goods flooding our markets, we need prompt, vigorous, efficient enforcement of our trade laws.
The global economic recession affected us all. During this economic recession, we have seen
increased dumping of paper products and additional government subsidies to promote China's papermaking juggernaut. We cannot allow China and Indonesia to export their unemployment to the United States. We must take all measures necessary to halt the flood of unfairly traded paper into the United States and prevent surges of dumped and subsidized paper from continuing to devastate our companies and workers.
The Department of Commerce has found that Chinese and Indonesian imports of coated paper are being dumped into the United States and that the Chinese and Indonesian governments are subsidizing their coated paper producers. To put it simply, the Indonesians and the Chinese are selling paper for way less than it can be produced. I think it's evident to everyone that these unfair trade practices are causing injury to U.S. manufacturers. Using the trade laws to protect our companies is not "protectionism."
Trade is vital to our country's economic future. American workers and producers must be assured that the U.S. trade laws will be there as the guard rail in the arena of international trade. We have the resources and know-how to compete and win in the global economy as long as the playing field is level.
Minnesota needs your support, the coated paper industry needs your support, and I am grateful to be able to share my concerns with you. Thank you very much."